Pinkster: One man's mission to bring awareness to African American tradition

Darla Miles Image
Saturday, June 1, 2024
Brooklyn-born precussionist bringing awareness about Pinkster tradition
Darla Miles has the latest from Weeksville.

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- The period was the 17th Century - 21 years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to North America. The celebration of Pinkster began in 1640.

"When Dutch went to church to celebrate, to observe Pentecost as paymaster, they would give their enslaved Africans time off. The Africans did not forget their heritage," said African drummer Chief Baba Neil Clarke.

Chief Baba Neil Clarke - a Brooklyn-born, internationally renowned master percussionist called to bring widespread awareness about Pinkster, the oldest African American tradition.

"I am hoping people will come out, 'what the heck is Pinkster?'" he said.

An article from the Albany Times published in 1880 says the Pinkster festival started in Albany two centuries ago - and 'now begins the fun for negroes, for Pinkster was the carnival of the African race.'

"We're talking the Hudson River Valley. So we're talking about Albany and above to arguably Philadelphia, Dutch, and the Dutch colonies. The Pinkster Festival took place on Pinkster Hill, which today is known as Capitol Hill."

Sunday, at the Weeksville Cultural Center in Brooklyn, will be Clarke's final celebration of Pinkster season, which begins 50 days after Easter.

"My intention is to get it made a state holiday. If Juneteenth can be a national holiday, there is no reason why Pinkster cannot be a New York State holiday," Clarke says.

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